DVD Format

DVD Format •What is a DVD disc ?

Introduced in 1996, DVD has since been the next generation of optical disc storage technology. Resembling compact discs in shape, DVD’s have lead the way in advancing the home movie entertainment industry. One of the many driving forces behind the success of the DVD industry has been the advanced picture quality. A DVD system delivers a DVD picture with over twice the definition of standard VHS. The high-density technology on the DVD disc stores over two times the number of pixels (720 per horizontal line) compared to standard VHS (320 per horizontal line).

• DVD Region Coding - What is this and why was it introduced?

Entirely independent of encryption, region coding pertains to "regional lockout" which originated in the video game industry. Each DVD-Video disc contains one or more region codes, denoting the area[s] of the world in which distribution and playback are intended. The commercial DVD player specification dictates that a player must only play discs that contain its region code. In theory, this allows the motion picture studios to control the various aspects of a release (including content, date and price) region-by-region.

The Intent is to protect the rights of theatre owners concerning the release dates of their up-coming films. Many cinema new releases get their releases dates at different times around the globe.Therefore the region code concept is designed to prevent the situation where a DVD of a film that is available in one country is imported by the consumer in another where the film is still only enjoying its theatrical first run. Currently the regions (1-6) are as follows :

1. U.S., U.S. Territories, Canada, and Bermuda.

2. Japan, Europe, South Africa, and the Middle East, including Egypt.

3. Southeast Asia, East Asia, including Hong Kong

4. Australia, New Zealand, Pacific Islands, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

5. Former Soviet Union, Indian subcontinent, Africa, North Korea, and Mongolia.

6. China.

However in reality, many DVD players allow playback of any disc from any region or can be modified to do so. Therefore the region code concept will continue to be largely not applicable while DVD player manufactures continue to produce "All Region" playable machines.

• The DVD format alternatives

Two next generation DVD formats were released.

Format 1. HD DVD

The HD DVD (High Definition DVD) disc is designed to be the successor to the standard DVD format. It can store about three times as much data as its predecessor (15 GB per layer instead of 4.7 GB). The HD DVD standard was jointly developed by a group of consumer electronics and PC companies, spearheaded by Toshiba.

• What Is An HD DVD Disc ?

HD DVD is a new optical disc format that stands for High-Definition Digital Versatile Disc. It uses a blue laser, which allows for more data density per disc. So what does that mean? HD DVD delivers six times the picture resolution of normal DVDs, up to 7.1 channels of high-resolution audio, amazing interactivity and more bonus content.

The overwhelming majority of HD DVD discs are dual layer with 30 GB of storage. Using the latest compression technologies, the 30 GB disc can display up to 1080-line high-definition images with high-resolution audio and advanced interactivity. Today’s DVDs have a capacity of up to 8.5 GB, and can only display 480-line standard-definition (SD) images with no high-resolution audio or interactivity. HD DVD however has lost the race as the preferred new generation HD DVD to the Blu-Ray format.

• Format 2. Blu-ray Disc DVD

The name Blu-ray Disc is derived from the blue-violet laser used to read and write this type of disc. Because of this shorter wavelength (405nm), substantially more data can be stored on a Blu-ray Disc than on the common DVD format, which uses a red, 650 nm laser. Blu-ray Disc can store 25 GB on each layer, as opposed to a DVD's 4.7 GB.

• The “Format War” – HD v’s Blu-ray

With Studios supporting one or the other but not both next generation formats , a format war is currently been waged. Much like the format war that was waged between Beta and VHS when the video format was first introduced. An observer would have thought distributors would have learn’t from the past video format war which was expensive and a waste of the consumer’s income.

An ironic aspect of format wars is that perceived technical superiority does not always win. Though Betamax was perceived by consumers to have better picture quality than VHS, a number of factors including VHS's longer recording time, wider range of models and suppliers, and lower cost eventually relegated Betamax to a niche market in Japan.

As of March 2008, Blu-Ray is now the winner of the format war as Sony (the major backer of HD) will cease making HD DVD players.Therefore Blu-Ray is considered the winner of the next generation DVD's.